Cuomo asks Trump for help with ‘Summer of Agony’ at New York Penn Station
NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday called on President Donald Trump for federal help at Penn Station, saying the "impact of the state of disrepair" is at "a tipping point."
Although Amtrak has not released a final schedule of closures for this summer's work at the 112-year-old station, Cuomo cited earlier comments from Amtrak CEO Wick Moorman that service will be reduced by 20 percent for two "multi-week" periods to allow for the work, and wrote that will create a "summer of agony" for thousands of commuters. Highways, bridges, and tunnels will be "swamped" by alternative traffic, according to Cuomo.
"This reduced capacity will create a domino effect. We will see increased delays at surrounding regional transit systems, and our infrastructure will be stretched to its limits as they absorb a high volume of citizens in search of alternate routes," Cuomo wrote.
Cuomo referenced the president's New York roots in his letter, telling him, "As a New Yorker, I think you know the severity of the situation."
The governor, a Democrat, wants the federal government to help figure out and fund transportation alternatives while repair work is undertaken after a spate of problems, including two derailments. Cuomo also reiterated a call he has made before, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, that a private operator should take over operations at Penn Station from government-funded Amtrak, which operates the station that is also used by the Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit.
In his letter, Cuomo said, "I know that you believe in privatization where appropriate and in this situation I think there is no doubt that it is appropriate."
He also suggested that Penn Station could be taken over by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Christie said last week he and NJ Transit Executive Director Steve Santoro were talking with Amtrak "to try to get to a reasonable position. I’m not ready yet to declare partial success or failure. I’m not yet to a point where I am satisfied with what Amtrak is saying but they’re being more attentive and we’re getting closer.”
Christie said he is "really angry" at the reduction in service, but also doesn’t want more derailments and delays the repairs are supposed to prevent.
Moorman had expected details to be released last week, but a date has not yet been set for an announcement.
Amtrak has not yet returned a message seeking comment about Cuomo's letter.
On April 3, a derailment took out eight of 21 tracks for four days, creating widespread delays. That was blamed on weakened wooden cross-ties beneath a track portion. A derailment on March 24 was due to a mismatched rail joint.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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